Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Total Eclipse of the Heart

This morning, Stella and I got up to watch the solar eclipse (which is annular in Scotland, Iceland, and Greenland but only partial in Germany).

We got up at half-past four in the morning because they had said on the radio yesterday that the sun would rise at around five. We dressed quickly and went up to a little hill which is the highest point in our neighbourhood. This took about twenty minutes; we got there just around five.

We met nobody on the way and wondered whether no-one else was going to watch the eclipse. When we got to the hillside, we found one lady there; she was red-haired. She had a photography bag with her and tripod. We chatted a bit.

After five to ten minutes, a couple more people came. There was still no sign of the sun.

The red-haired lady went into a nearby field to see where the sun would rise. Finally she said, "There it is!" Stella and I went into the field with her and did indeed see the rising sun with a bite taken out of it (the eclipse had started before local sunrise).

We watched the sun slowly rise and the moon travel across the sun's disc. Parts of the sun kept being obscured by clouds; when we first saw the sun, we could only see the top half because the bottom half was invisible behind a cloud, and later, the top would get cut off and for a while we didn't see the sun at all.

When it reappeared, it was just after maximum eclipse and the sun was getting brighter and brighter. We couldn't look at it with the naked eye except for just a moment. This made photographing more difficult, of course; we had taken a couple of pictures, too.

We then got out our protective glasses which we had bought for the total solar eclipse of 1999; they have a film which attenuates the sunlight by a factor of 100,000. The sun's crescent looked quite a bit narrower through the glasses than with the naked eye; I couldn't tell whether that was due to the fact that sun was still rising and wasn't quite as bright, or whether the eye was fooled by the brightness.

At around six o'clock, half an hour after maximum eclipse, we decided to set off back home, since it was getting a little boring, especially as we couldn't take pictures any more. The sun was still crescent-shaped.

On the way home, we would look back occasionally at the sun. The first time we looked, the moon's right edge was roughly in the sun's centre; later on, it moved further and further over. On the rise just above our home, we looked back for the last time: there was now only a little chunk missing from the sun's right side. However, I didn't want to wait around there until the end since I was getting hungry; there were only seven minutes left until the end anyway.

I'm home again now; the eclipse finished four minutes ago, according to the time table for Hamburg.

Still, an interesting sight. And I was glad we had saved the special glasses we had bought four years ago; I don't know where we could have got hold of some now.

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